Mobile Unlocks the Future of Local

By Gracen Johnson

A collision of forces – cultural, ecological and economic – have provided fuel for the go-local movement hovering at the forefront of sustainable living discussions. Some leaders of local are attracted to the wholesomeness of experiences like Slow Food, others have a fierce carbon conscience or a penchant to support the local economy. While the local movement is often characterized by quaint farmers’ markets and the mom and pop hardware store, flashy gadgets and tech startups now join the ranks as heroes of home-sweet-home living.

Mobile is unlocking possibilities for local lifestyles that could very well redefine consumption as we know it. Location based micro-economies are emerging with increasing levels of sophistication – micro-economies operated by you and me. Now, anyone with a smartphone and something to offer can be a friendly neighbourhood retailer. In some ways, an iPhone is a souped up 2011 incarnation of the lemonade stand. Every day, mobile startups are creatively making community sourcing easier and more enjoyable in the name of collaborative consumption, the groundswell movement which puts sustainability within closer reach.

You can share a ride to work with Avego; you can buy, sell or barter your once-loved goods on Tradyo; you can turn a spare room into marketable office space on LiquidSpace; you can sell your spare time and buy your daily errands on AgentAnything; you can even offer up hyperlocal information on LocalMind;

We sit at the intersection of two dramatic realizations: communities are rich with the solutions to everyday problems (whether that’s the college kid who can pick up your dry cleaning or the neighbour who can swap dresses to wear to those four summer weddings); and the technology is now available to connect communities in a meaningful way. The icing on the cake is the social value generated by finally introducing neighbours and revaluing the neglected assets in an individual’s life.

The potential of this development is staggering. estimates that the value of swappable goods in the US alone could exceed $1 trillion. These ‘swappable goods’ are items that are likely gathering dust on the shelf or in the garage. Consider throwing underutilized services into the mix, from piano lessons to carpentry. The ability to reallocate this value from latent to harnessed on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood scale brings whole new meaning to reduce, reuse, recycle and social infrastructure. Mobile makes it happen and the revolution has only begun. This is ‘buy-local’ on steroids – it’s enough to make you sigh and say, “So this is why my iPhone was born.”

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Gracen Johnson is a co-founder of Tradyo and avid participant in the collaborative consumption movement. Questions, comments and general conversation can be directed to @gracenjohnson or

Tradyo is a free mobile app that enables you to buy, sell and barter on a very local level. Tradyo acts like a treasure hunt – a StumbleUpon for tangible things. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet in the process, but you can keep in touch through the app if you discover a great trade buddy! For example:


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